I am a huge fan of author Shannon Hale. I first discovered her in 2006 via her Newberry Honor book Princess Academy (read my blubbering, fan-girl review). I also fell in love with her adult fiction book Austenland in 2008 (read my still enthusiastic, yet slightly more professional review). I’ve read every other book of hers I can find, and was excited this summer by the release of a sequel to Princess Academy – Princess Academy: Palace of Stone.
I’m not altogether sure Princess Academy needed a sequel. I felt Miri’s story was full and complete in the first book. But this addition to her story was an interesting look at how the character grows and matures after her experiences at the Princess Academy. In Palace of Stone, Miri is invited by Princess-to-be Britta (also her best friend) to travel from her quaint, remote village on Mount Eskel to the busy Danland capital city of Asland. There she lives in the King’s court and studies at Queen’s Castle (a local college of sorts), immersing herself in lectures on Ethics and Diplomacy. Being a Lady of the Princess, Miri discovers she has been elevated to the position of Noble, even as she slowly becomes embroiled in palace intrigue and the growing tide of a commoner revolution.
While some of the plot points felt artificial and clunky, Hale’s writing still makes me catch my breath with its lyric qualities. And Miri is a charming character, even if it felt like some of her scenes were forced. I appreciated the growing love story between her and childhood friend Peder, and was happy to see the return of quarry speak during the book’s climax. Unfortunately, I felt the pacing of the book was off and could have had about 50 pages edited out for a better flow.
My review is mixed for Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. I was glad to spend more time with many of these pleasant, familiar characters. But I also felt Hale’s writing deserved more than the weaknesses in the story, and I hope for better from her next novel.
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